United has added an impressive number of ultra longhaul flights in the past couple of years, including the following:
- United began flying between San Francisco and Singapore as of June 1, 2016
- United began flying between Los Angeles and Singapore as of October 27, 2017
- United began flying between Houston and Sydney as of January 18, 2018
These are the three longest flights operated by any US airline, and all three of them are among the world’s 10 longest flights. While I usually love ultra longhaul flights, I can’t say that United’s 787s are where I’d like to spend that much time.
United’s strategy of ultra longhaul flying is interesting. Historically it’s tough to make money on these kinds of flights, though with smaller and more fuel efficient planes, it’s definitely more feasible than in the past. With fuel prices increasing, it will be interesting to see what happens with these types of routes over the coming years.
United has just announced adjustments to two of these ultra longhaul services.
United will discontinue flights between Los Angeles and Singapore
United will discontinue daily nonstop flights between Los Angeles and Singapore as of October 27, 2018, which is the route’s one year anniversary. This is their longest route of all, and this move doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me. United is a distant third at LAX behind American and Delta, so presumably they don’t have as much market share there as they need to make the route work.
Furthermore, by early next year Singapore Airlines will also fly nonstop between Los Angeles and Singapore, so if the route isn’t working for United now, you can bet it won’t be working for them when a superior airline enters the market.
United will add a second daily flight between San Francisco and Singapore
This is the part of the announcement that surprises me. United flies daily between San Francisco and Singapore, and I figured the route was doing fairly well since SFO is such a big hub for them. However, Singapore Airlines also operates this route, so you have twice daily service in the market.
As of October 27, 2018, United will add a second daily nonstop flight between San Francisco and Singapore. This will complement the schedule of the existing flight, so United’s two flights will operate with the following schedules:
UA001 San Francisco to Singapore departing 10:40PM arriving 8:00AM (+2 days)
UA002 Singapore to San Francisco departing 10:00AM arriving 8:35AM
UA029 San Francisco to Singapore departing 10:55AM arriving 8:15PM (+1 day)
UA028 Singapore to San Francisco departing 10:20PM arriving 8:55PM
It’s amazing to think that there will be three daily nonstop flights between San Francisco and Singapore. Wow.
These United adjustments are fascinating. I was expecting the Los Angeles to Singapore route would be cut eventually, though I’m surprised to see United doubling service between San Francisco and Singapore, especially since Singapore Airlines also operates that route. I wonder if they’re hoping to drive Singapore Airlines out of the market (which seems unlikely), or if there’s really that much high yield demand.
What do you make of these United network changes?